Who doesn’t love a good badge, right? From the most obscure of features to the longest of oddly-translated sayings on the back of a Kei car, there’s just something nice about having words and images on your vehicle. Yesterday, we asked for your favorite badges in automotive history, and you came back with hundreds of answers. Here are some of the best.
The Quadrifoglio Clover
[Just a photo of the badge]
The four-leaf clover means luck for Alfa Romeo, stretching back to the company’s early racing days. On modern cars, it also stands for the highest-performance trim — the Quadrifoglio, which I can almost type correctly every time.
Plymouth Superbird Tail Graphics
It’s the ‘70 Plymouth Road Runner Superbird’s “rudder” decal:
First of all, there’s the genius marketing crossover between Warner Bros and Plymouth with the licensing of the Road Runner character. But for the Superbird model, a car literally capable of over 200mph half a century ago, instead of portraying the bird going like hell like on the regular Road Runner decals, it’s just standing there holding a racing helmet....
The incongruity of the decal kills me. It’s the best.
The trick with the Superbird is that it was finally faster than the Roadrunner itself. Of course it’s just standing there with a helmet, it doesn’t need to run — it can just drive.
Saab’s Early Plane Logo
[Just a photo of the badge]
Saab may be Born From Jets, but this early logo depicted a twin-prop plane headed straight at the viewer. But somehow, despite being one of the coolest logos in automotive history, it’s incredibly hard to find a good rights-free photo of one.
Retro Feature Badges
The oddball badges from the 80s that proudly proclaimed things like 5-speed or fuel injection like it was a big deal.
Hang on, hang on. This thing gets its fuel INJECTED into the ENGINE? By god, man, are we ready for this sort of technology? Can we handle it? The philosophical implications alone are staggering.
Oldsmobile’s Rocket Logo
Oldsmobile’s Rocket will always have my heart.
Welcome to the Space Age, baby. It’s rockets all the way up, and rockets all the way down, until we beat the damned Commies to space. I mean to having artificial satellites in orbit. I mean to putting a probe on the moon. I mean to putting living beings in orbit. I mean to putting people in orbit. I mean to putting people on the moon. Yeah, that’s it, that’s the one.
The Grand National’s Turbo 6 Badge
Turbo Buick’s 6 logo does it for me.
This one little decal is a masterclass in efficient design. Not only do you have the 6, for the Grand National’s six cylinders, but the looping arrow shows how air moves through a turbocharger — circularly. It’s got layers.
The Three Pointed Star
There’s something about staring down the long hood of a W126 and seeing this at the other end that (along with all of the features that were unheard of in 1986) makes a $1,300 car feel special.
A cheap Mercedes will almost never look its price. That star above the hood isn’t just a badge, it’s a symbol of luxury. That didn’t come cheap in its time, and no matter how many years pass, it doesn’t look cheap now.
I’m a little biased, but I love the “Midship Amusement” decal on the side of the Beat
Alternatively, the PORSCHE block badging on the back is timeless and elegant. That said, things quickly get out of hand with the sub badge. If I ever was so fortunate to be able to order a new Porsche, I get it with just the PORSCHE logo, no model designation. I saw a 911 Carrera 4s on the road the other day with full badging and it looked atrocious.
Midship Amusement is great, but there’s an even better, weirder JDM badge for two-door sports cars. We’ve even talked about an abridged version of it on this site. For your viewing pleasure: A Man In Dandism.
The Gas Cap Gremlin
Gremlin Gas cap logo. It’s cooler than the car.
Look at this guy. This mischievous little fellow. This pointy-shoed, ear-to-ear grinning dude. He has secrets, he won’t tell them to you, but he will absolutely rock your shit in Mario Party. Perfect 5/7.
The Stagea Double Unicorn
Nissan seemingly had a unique badge for nearly all of their performance cars in the 80s and 90s. Though my personal favorite would be the Stagea RS-Four emblem with the dual unicorns. I don’t know what the story is behind it, but I think it’s really unique and cool. Also, GTR wagon.
Not only do the unicorns form an S, for Stagea, they also formed the name of a Mighty Car Mods series where one lucky wagon got a turbo AWD V8 powertrain. Pretty good track record for one badge.
The Abarth Scorpion
Abarth vehicles were renowned for being high-performing and powerful, but first and foremost small and agile just like the Scorpion.
Are scorpions really that agile? They’re so low to the ground, and so bottom-heavy, I didn’t think they were particularly quick. I’m not going to Google this, because I want to be able to sleep tonight, and videos of scorpions being in any way nimble will ensure I never do so again.
Alfa Romeo, As A Whole
Alfa Romeo. Beautiful.
I know what you’re going to say. “Oh, Steve, you had the Quadrifoglio logo up top, you can’t also do Alfa’s brand logo here.” In fact I can, and here’s why: First, there’s a giant snake eating a guy. Second, it’s my blog, and I can do what I want. If you want to knock Alfa off the list, all you have to do is make your own car company, with a badge in which two snakes eat two guys.
Holden’s lion. Looks good in V8 Supercar liveries too.
Yes, this example image is a full-car livery, but it’s based on Holden’s lion badge that adorns every car. Well, adorned. Pour one out for GM’s greatest subsidiary.
The Purr Of A Jaguar
Lots of great options here.
I’ve always loved the Jaguar badge, personally.
And from the past:
In the original Hall & Oates version of Maneater, the “purr of a jaguar” could either be the cat or the car. In Grace Mitchell’s much more interesting and somber version, it’s explicitly the car. All three point four liters, purring away.
International Harvester - Designed by Raymond Lowey.
Once you see the ‘man on a tractor’ you can’t unsee it.
Now I can’t see anything but the man on a tractor. Thanks, Earthbound Misfit I. I would say that just for that, Mother 3 should never be localized, but even I am not that cruel.